Well, the news is in! I attended Zoe’s parent/teacher conference and got LOTS of great information.
SPOILER: I tried to dig down about “shenanigans”, and the teacher basically defended Zoe, as though I were the one who thought she was mischievous… You’ll see.
Picture this: There are 11 sleeping kids on cots all around a preschool classroom (except for Hazel who apparently never sleeps and Lucas who happened to be sleeping by the table the teacher chose for our conference, so his head popped up every 15 mins to check on us). My child is fast asleep, snuggled up in her cot about 5 feet away. The lights are out but it’s 1:30 in the afternoon. The table we’re seated at is maybe 2 feet high, with tiny preschool chairs which is where we sat, each on a side of the table. Zoe’s teacher is the one above with black hair and glasses (our kid is the cute little blond boy on the front row on the right).
In front of her, there’s an old school clipboard with free-form large handwriting on it (I assume hers?) that turns out to be a very “organized” list of Zoe’s development. What follows is an “organized” breakdown of the stream of consciousness review that followed, with my thoughts in italics:
SEPARATION. Very good, this is done. (this means Zoe doesn’t even notice we’re gone, which happened on day three of school two years ago…)
SOCIAL/PLAY. Cooperative, good with independent play and plays games with friends, very friendly, loving & expressive, good communication skills, she is always talking and rarely alone. (clearly takes after her dad)
PEER PLAY. Well-liked. There’s a little juggling with Addie & Hazel (these two + Zoe are the 3 musketeers) that has given them all some emotional blows, sometimes makes them sad but they always make up, hope that next year Zoe will find her own best friend instead of part of trio, she can be a big whiner, but always respectful, plays fair, kind, shows signs of leadership ability, likes to accomplish things and be in charge, she’s an “old soul” who is very empathetic and sincere. (where do I start? hopefully we end up with more of the old soul leader and less of the whiner)
ADULTS. Excellent communication skills, amazing helper when she feels like it, can disappear around the corner sometimes to see if we notice, likes to test boundaries which is normal for her age but takes redirection well and is never disrespectful, very friendly, we talk about in class that NOT EVERYONE is your friend and what that means but you will need to teach her about this because she’s not afraid of anyone.
SENSE OF SELF. Strong self-esteem, clearly a very loved child, very confident, secure, brave, always speaks up for herself, will disagree, even with me but that’s ok, very determined, self-assured, accepts limits/boundaries, handles routines and transitions well, occasionally distracted and nonstop chatty (again, clearly takes after her dad)
PROBLEM-SOLVING & FRUSTRATION TOLERANCE. Is much better than beginning of the year, would cry before but now helps others deal with their own drama instead.
THE NO-NO STORY: (No-No is a kid named Noah in her class) Both Zoe and No-No were trying to sit on the same chair. No-No was pushing pushing pushing to get his butt on the chair but Zoe’s “whole butt” was already on there, and she sat there patiently and silently, not pushing back one bit, just looking forward at teacher. “She Stuck”. (and guess what? she got that chair)
INDOOR/OUTDOOR: Really good small motor skills, outside she is very good and all over the place, balance is getting better, needs to be more cautious, constantly tries things she can’t do yet, could get hurt, even if she is last place in a race she won’t give up.
COGNITIVE: Very focused, if interested, very fidgety if not (clearly takes after me…), learning fast, her memory is amazing, loves to share, if nothing to share she comes up anyway and just talks (dad again), always very articulate with good reasoning skills, self-help skills amazing, able to wipe herself after poop and only asked for help once (for the record, she does not do this at home), always on top of her own stuff, if it’s her responsibility it gets done, likes to do it all by herself, if she is helped, she will likely REDO the work (mom again)
At the end of the stream above, she asked me if I had any questions. I said I’d like to hear more about the Shenanigans she had mentioned to Bart. She looked at me blankly. I clarified, and here’s the shenanigans story:
ME: So do the kids get to “put up the date” every day?
TEACHER: Yes, they raise their hands quietly and if they know the answer and get called on, they can put up the date.
ME: Gotcha. That’s what Zoe told us, but at the beginning of the year we would ask her at the end of the day who put up the date and it was a lot of different kids. Then we had several weeks in a row where Zoe was the ONLY one to get to put up the date. Is that true?
TEACHER: Well, to HER it likely IS mostly true. She probably put up her hand and knew the date but she just didn’t get called on, so she DID know the date.
ME: Right but she didn’t actually put up the date. So should we be concerned that she’s not telling the truth? (are you kidding me? I KNOW she knew the date, I quizzed her ahead of time!)
TEACHER: Well, about 75% of what she tells you is likely true, and it most of it is likely true TO HER.
ME: Ok, so then what does shenanigans mean?
TEACHER: Well, she can be distracted sometimes and a little mischievous.
At this point, I dropped it, and we may NEVER know what shenanigans really means. I suppose it’s “disappearing around the corner sometimes”?
When we got home that afternoon, I reviewed the teacher conference feedback with Zoe, and she smiled through the whole thing (I may not have said “BIG WHINER”) and we talked about Stranger Danger and being more careful when trying new things. She paid attention (we have more work to do on both of those), then asked me to read it again. In fact, the next day in the car on the way home, she wanted to hear it AGAIN. Proof that at a very early age, we all want feedback ;)
Oh, and about the “Talks-A-Lot Dad” comments above, just ask his mother – as a child, Bart got the SAME review from teachers. I’m not kidding. And in contract, I was a SHY, Follow-the-Rules kid. Proof that people really can change ;)